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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Proud, Connected, Appalled and Overwhelmed

Proud:  I was extremely worried last year when the whole of religious Zionist youth were systematically vilified by the government, media and political left, and labeled as selfish, unpatriotic and uncaring about the welfare of the State of Israel.  They were castigated by these quarters of our society for daring to protest against a policy of disengagement they felt was not only wrong... but actively dangerous. 

These kids tried to engage the country in a dialog about how appeasement has been tried too many times and has never been successful.  They tried to get intelligent people to admit that unilateral concessions only reward terror and have given our enemies newfound confidence in terror as a negotiating tool.  Unfortunately they were shouted (and sometimes beaten) down with the worst sort of insults.

For their trouble, an entire generation of religious youth were marginalized by their countrymen and told that they were a selfish - even dangerous - burden on Israeli society.

A year ago I worried that instead of continuing to volunteer for the most elite of the combat units, these kids would opt out and become 'jobniks' (rear echelon, non-combat soldiers) and leave the hero work to others.  I was worried that instead of heeding the call to fill the ranks of the IDF officer's corps (thus extending their army service by years), they would do their required three years quietly and without distinction.

But I am proud beyond words to see the precious youth of my community still competing for the most elite of the elite combat assignments.  Many quietly come home from grueling training wearing officer's insignia on their sweat-stained uniforms instead of looking forward to discharge after 'only' three years. 

Rather than allowing themselves to be drafted into non-combat units due to lower medical profiles, many kids with foot, ankle and knee problems are scheduling elective corrective surgery while still in high school so they will be physically ready for the rigorous 'giboosh' (screening camps) for the ultra-elite units such as Shayetet 13, Magellan, Duvdavan, Shaldag, Egoz, 669 and Sayeret Matkal.

Those who are 'only' selected for 'regular' Paratrooper, Golani or Givati units are warmly congratulated by their peers, but many bear an inner shame at not having gained admission to the most dangerous duty.

One example of the kind of selflessness one finds in these young religious Zionists is exemplified by the son of some close friends of ours.  He was selected for the Golani Brigade and went through their famously demanding training.  Upon completing the course at the top of his class, he was one of a very few soldiers who was hand picked to enter a program to become an instructor sergeant for the next batch of incoming conscripts. 

Not only was this an extremely prestigious plum for all his hard work, but his parents were obviously relieved to know that he would now be out of harm's way at least for the next 6 - 8 months. 

However, the moment hostilities broke out in the north and this young man heard that his friends were in the thick of it, he demanded that his commanders immediately transfer him back to fight with his unit.  His parents now sit at home with a mix of trepidation and pride knowing that their son is one of those painted heroes one sees on the news going in and out of harms way.

Another example of selflessness that has transcended the generations is the case of a coworker of mine.  His son volunteered for the Paratroops and has been serving in this combat unit for almost a year now.  My coworker also did his army service in the Paratroops and has continued to serve in his reserve unit well past the required age of 40.  Friday his emergency reserve call up notice arrived and he put on his red Paratrooper boots and went off to join his son in serving his country.

As I've said many times before on a number of topics, I think the government, media and political left owe these kids - the same ones that were vilified in Gush Katif and bludgeoned in Amona - a huge apology.  In many ways, these kids would have been perfectly justified in telling the country to go to hell; 'you made your bed, now sleep in it!'  But as always, they put the needs of the country first.

I couldn't be prouder.

Connected:  As one of the communities that (for the time being anyway) remains out of enemy rocket range, my town has become host to several hundred people who have left their homes because of the relentless rocket bombardment from Hamas and Hezbollah.   Some of our neighbors have volunteered to create youth activities for the children who are visiting.  Others do endless loads of laundry.  Still others prepare meals and do shopping for families whose pride makes it difficult to accept such kindnesses.

We have been paired with a lovely family from Hatzor who have been displaced from their home.  We got to know them a little bit over Shabbat, and late into Saturday night we sat over cake and tea listening to them talk about their temporary displacement as though they were simply having renovations done.  During the course of the conversation the father let it slip that the only way they even know that their beautiful house is still standing is that every day they call the answering machine... and breath a sign of relief when it continues to pick up.  Yet immediately they go back to talking about their home and community as though they are simply on vacation... and tell us how they can't wait to play host to us.

I'd really like that... may it be soon.

Appalled:  That word doesn't even come close to adequately describing my feelings about the terrorist attack at the Jewish Federation of Seattle. 

There I've said it.  Terrorist. Attack

I'm sure the FBI and police will be falling all over themselves trying to make this Muslim Terrorist out to be a lone kook who just happened to be Muslim and who just happened to wander in off the street into a Jewish target of opportunity organization, and who was simply aiming his two loaded semi-automatic handguns at completely random people... not knowing they were Jews.

Just watch.  They did the same thing a few years ago when the El Al ticket counter at LAX was targeted by a lone Muslim gunman. 

For those keeping score for the purposes of moral equivalence... one woman was executed in cold blood and five others were wounded by a Muslim gunman for the sole crime of being Jewish.  If this was a random event, then this coincidence has to be like winning the Irish sweepstakes without even buying a ticket!

Speaking of lotteries... if they are holding one to see who gets to pull the switch at this guy's execution (does Washington State even have the death penalty???), I need to buy a few tickets.  Y'know, forget that.  This guy deserves to have his skin ripped off while he is still alive and then be buried alive in a barrel filled with salt pork.  Enjoy your virgins now, dipstick!

Overwhelmed:  I have to say that I was completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of generosity in response to Friday's fund-raiser here at treppenwitz.  In less than 24 hours you people plunked down almost $1000 of your hard-earned money to help make life a little easier for the soldiers who are on active and reserve duty over here. 

I am in the process of putting together an honor roll that will be posted near the top of the page (I have to check to see how/if people want to be listed), and I will continue to add names and links as donations come in.

For those who would like to participate in this ongoing effort, please scroll down the page on the lower right hand side (in the 'Flotsam & Jetsam' section) and click on the little button that looks like this:


By clicking on that button (the one down the page... not this one) you will be taken to a secure site where you can donate any amount from one dollar and up.  I assure you that even a dollar or two goes a long way.  Nothing is too little and no contribution is unimportant.

This is not meant to take your contributions away from any other worthwhile organization (of which there are many).  It is simply my own grassroots effort to direct funds to lesser known channels which I know for a fact have 0% operating overhead and 100% of the funds are spent on active duty and reserve soldiers.

One favor though.  Please don't divert any funds from your student loans (as one thoughtful commenter suggested she intended to do).  That is above and beyond the call.  However, if you want to forgo your regular double latte and donate a few morning's $tarbuck$ money... that's perfectly OK.

[Note:  While it may seem that this post places undue emphasis on the importance of elite combat soldiers in the IDF, I want to assure readers that there are very few unimportant jobs in the Israel Defense forces.  My intention was not to disparage soldiers who serve in non-elite and/or non-combat roles.  I was simply pointing out that certain volunteer positions involve an elevated level of personal risk to those who choose to serve in them.  This is the antithesis of 'selfish' or unpatriotic' behavior.]


Posted by David Bogner on July 30, 2006 | Permalink


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This is amazing to hear. Unfortunately, here, in the United States, the stereotypes persist. Many people I know believe that all "religious people" sit around in yeshivas all day and don't serve. Often, it's very difficult to explain what actually is going on, because many people simply can't tell the difference. : ( In fact, it would be very helpful if someone outlined wrote about that in a more organized way one day.

Posted by: Irina | Jul 30, 2006 5:06:50 PM

I feel very guilty. We donated to Magen David Adom back when you recommended it. We have zero disposable income (actually some months, negative disposable income). So our donation was just a small drop in the big bucket known as our business credit line. So we really can’t justify adding more to our balance, though your cause is the most worthwhile we’ve seen. Why couldn’t the war have happened in a few years, by which time I anticipate being debt free?

“And now a word from our sponsor!” Actually now a word to your sponsor. He says “Show your unabiding support…” He means abiding. Abiding is permanent, persisting. If you can, please pass this on to her/him.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Jul 30, 2006 6:04:45 PM

I just read the rest of the post.

The Seattle shooting is at least being called a hate crime by Seattle police, which is more than happenned with the El Al LAX shooting. They're still not using the T word though.

The lesson here is that the Federation building is one of the highest security buildings in the city, and this still happenned -- without mutiple attackers, without inside knowledge of security procedure, without detailed planning. The only thing that would have stopped him is if one of the victims or bystanders was armed. American Jews should be clammoring for concealed carry permits, but the vast majority will instead delude themselves into believing that there was some way for the gov't to disarm this evil man before he struck.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Jul 30, 2006 6:27:43 PM


Can't find an email for you on your page--maybe I'm not looking hard enough. Anyway, just put in my PayPal and wanted to remind you that female soldiers have underwear needs of their own. I'll leave it up to you to decide what's most crucial, but if you bought a pile of sports bras (they don't need to be an exact fit and just come in S, M, L) I'm sure there would be some very grateful women out there.

Posted by: uberimma | Jul 30, 2006 7:52:30 PM

Appalled here too :( Even though Seattle is a bastion of, well, a lot of kinds of ideas, to answer your thought, the death penalty is still on the books in this state, and handguns are still legal with permit.

There are many wars of ideas here. I've gotten in to several debates with co-workers (courteous and not heated) about some of the recent events ... the same kinds of things that you write about.

Posted by: Seattle | Jul 30, 2006 11:21:22 PM

The only thing that would have stopped him is if one of the victims or bystanders was armed.


He was holding a gun to the head of a girl. That changes everything.

Posted by: Jack | Jul 31, 2006 1:22:21 AM

David, Kids on both sides of the big water amaze me, being at the pointy end a long time ago qualifies me, I think, to judge the character of this generation given the threat both our, and other western, nations are facing. My daughter is a flight medic in an air assult unit and has been to see the elephant. She and her friends are amazing in their attitude and their efforts, I suspect the same as the kids of which you write. RAH had one of his characters, Lazarus Long, write, "It was the practice of Roman matrons to tell their sons to return with their shield or upon it. The practice later declined, so did Rome." OFS

Posted by: Old Fat Sailor | Jul 31, 2006 2:43:13 AM

Dr. Bean, as my lovely partner says: "It's a drop in the bucket, but it's MY bucket."

RE: the shooting here.

I heard about it almost instantaneously, since I work very near. In fact, Bayou used to live DIRECTLY around the corner. I had numerous occasions to see the folks coming in and out of the JF, nod and say hello. I always thought the JF was well-placed; Belltown is a bit of a danger area, and they lend some stability.

However, given recent news reports on the shooter Naveen Haq... I am (at this time) unprepared to call him a terrorist. Indications are rife (if still unproven) that he has severe mental issues. By several accounts, he's bipolar, can't hold a job, has had a lot of family tension, and is recent convert to Christianity- only to blurt out he was angry things re: Israel and identify as a Muslim American?

None of it makes much sense, yet. And who knows, all of it may be just a smoke screen. But he is one man, so far as we know, with no ties to any active cells of anti-Israeli or US interests at heart. I think it prudent, and fair, to wait until ALL the evidence is in before we label what may be a mentally ill man a terrorist.

I am sympathetic to Israel, and I always have been. But on this specifc issue, I think that labeling him a terrorist -in the sense I believe was implied- is premature.

My best wishes to all, as always, and be safe.

Posted by: Lachlan | Jul 31, 2006 9:04:16 AM

Oops, correction on the quote: "It's a drop in the bucket, but it's my drop."

Posted by: Lachlan | Jul 31, 2006 9:05:12 AM

I live just north of Seattle and was appalled at the shooting. Yes, Washington State has the death penalty. When I first heard of the shooting (I'm out of town with my family) the first thing that came out of the reporter's mouth was that it was possible the shooter has a history of mental illness. I work with the mentally ill daily (as an advocate) and am in the process of putting together a seminar to educate the faith community on how to respond to the mentally ill. In preparation I spoke with THE police sargent who trains the police on how to interact with the mentally ill. In her words, "Just because they are mentally ill doesn't mean they can't be bad people or commit crimes."

So, while I have compassion for the mentally ill, this person did commit heinous crimes and should at the very least be put away for life, if he isn't executed due to reasons of mental instability.

Having said all this, I'm not buying it that he's mentally ill yet. His actions seemed too pointed and clear at this point to me.

Posted by: Tracey | Jul 31, 2006 10:45:30 AM

Irina... That post will almost certainly not be written by me. I am already accused (sometimes justly) of oversimplifying and tossing people and events into simple categories. The political and religious landscape would become a minefield if I ever attempted to map it. :-)

Doctor Bean... The last thing I meant to happen was for anyone to have to justify giving or not giving. I happen to know where your sympathies lie and I stressed that my little grass-roots effort was not meant to compete with other giving opportunities. ego te absolvo. :-)

Uberima... I will take it under advisement, but I am under the impression that the overwhelming majority of people being called up for duty at or near the front are men. Obviously I will check this out, but most of the women I know who have been called up work in the Home-front Command and have access to clean clothes.

Seattle, see today's post for some more ideas to toss around with your friends and coworkers. Don't forget to pull the pin before tossing. :-)

Jack... You have to cut the Doc a little slack. He's just channeling his inner Clint Eastwood. Punk! :-)

Old Fat Sailor... A difficult, but necessary, thing for a parent to tell a child in time of war.

Lachlan... Look at you! Inspiring me to write a whole brand new post!!! :-) Seriously, you raise some valid points but I wanted to respond in a post rather than in the comments sections so the discussion would be among more than just the two of us.

Tracey... Just to be clear, I leave it to the legal system to decide how to deal with him in the long run. But there is no valid reason to automatically rule out terrorism in the first few minutes of an investigation. If it looks, smells and quacks like a duck... what is the harm in proceeding under the impression that you are dealing with a duck? You can always change your mind later.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jul 31, 2006 11:34:41 AM

The the proper term for rear echelon people is REMF.

BTW you might find this of interest:

Tactics, Strategy, Grand Strategy

Posted by: M. Simon | Aug 1, 2006 2:13:43 PM

Dr. Bean,

When I was growing up in the 50s we had rifle (BB guns) training at the JCC.

Time to bring it back?

All Jews should be capable of using weapons.

Disarmament is for victims.

I favor armed non-violence.

Posted by: M. Simon | Aug 1, 2006 2:58:57 PM

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